When it comes to traveling with children, sometimes it feels like the parenting world is split in two: those who absolutely believe in traveling with their children and those who absolutely don’t. If you find yourself in the latter group or somewhere in the middle, maybe it’s time to reconsider your stance. As an experienced travel parent who has exposed her daughter to 32 countries, I can tell you firsthand that traveling with your children is one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Here are some benefits of traveling with children:
1. Cultural Understanding
Traveling with children teaches them to understand and accept people and things that are different. As they are exposed to cultural differences early in their life, they develop a sense of ease within these settings, and learn to understand and respect what other people and places look like and sound like, connecting with those different to them on a humanitarian level. This understanding of the other can then be applied to all people and places of the world. Suddenly their world looks very different, as they begin to understand these differences more than a child whose cultural understanding is limited to those humans that they come across at the corner park or local ice cream shop.
2. Global View
Traveling with children expands their worldview. Even if the travel is domestic travel, it still teaches the children that other places, people, and ways of life exist. Children who travel know that the world is bigger than library story-hour.
3. Bilingual Skills
Developing bilingual skills from travel is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. This is the gift of a skill that can be monetized later on in the workplace, but also one that allows for interactions with and understandings of a different culture, which, along with cultural understanding and global viewpoint, fosters confidence, and an intimate membership into the ‘other’ community, leading to friendships, opportunities, and a sense of belonging which would otherwise be off limits.
Traveling with children allows them the opportunity to make more friends in different places and of different backgrounds. And as a child, isn’t the goal to have the most friends?
Traveling with children grants them more opportunities, because they are familiar with more places and people, have a wider network of contacts, and understand that more jobs exist. It develops different abilities that are applied to the workplace, and further illuminates dreams and possibilities.
Traveling is the best education. Wherever you travel to, education is all around. From calculating mileage or converting currency or weighing luggage to nature walks and ocean discoveries, cultural immersion, weather patterns, utilizing social skills, communication skills, history, and geography, there are many educational travel activities kids can enjoy.
7. Personal Growth
Traveling puts you around different people and places, and stretches your comfort zone with the unfamiliar. This leads to personal growth in terms of independence, responsibility, and comfort with foreign surroundings.
8. Global Citizenship & Responsibility
When we see other parts of our state, country, or world, we begin to understand how other places operate, and their needs, challenges, and successes. We see what different places look like in terms of environments and cultures. As we explore and learn and see, we also connect, bond, and begin to develop and assume a sense of moral responsibility and obligation for challenges we see in the world, as collective humans. This changes our perspective on gratitude, materialism, and humanity, and encourages us to think and act for the collective whole, and make a difference in this world, sharing with those who have less, and helping those in need.
Finally, the most important benefit of traveling with children is the ultimate lesson and value that it instills, which is cultivating compassion. The more we see, smell, feel, touch, and taste, the more we understand. And the more we understand, the more we respect. And the more we respect, the more we love. Traveling with children shows them that there are so many different ways to be, look, think, which in turn, if you are doing it right, instill ideals of eternal compassion, for our human race, and for our planet.
Crystal Blue Savante is a cultural anthropologist, international educator, and worldschooler who has traveled the globe with her children. She runs the blog enlightened globetrekker.
Did you know it’s possible to have fun and learn at the same time? While it’s great for kids to play with toys, their young minds are at the prime stage for taking in information and learning new skills. The solution? Toys that allow kids to learn while they play. This year when you shop for holiday and birthday gifts, opt for something with educational value.
Need help finding ideas? We’ve rounded up some of the top educational toys for kids of all ages.
Disclosure: HelpTeaching partnered with the companies of some our top picks to provide items for a giveaway, but all items were chosen for their quality educational value.
|Early Elementary||Upper Elementary|
Even though babies won’t remember whether you bought them a gift for Christmas or their birthday, sometimes you still want to get them something. Instead of adding another stuffed animal to their collection, try one of these options.
TOP PICK: 3 Ways to Play Walker – Ford F-150 – Never underestimate the power of observation. This walker allows babies to explore the world around them in three different ways, including a normal walker and push-behind mode. The steering wheel and authentic truck sounds and lights make the walker even more adorable.
Baby’s First Blocks: Nothing beats a classic shape sorting toy for babies and toddlers. Baby’s First Blocks from Fisher-Price features a handy tub to collect the shapes and a handle for carrying it. Babies and toddlers will learn to grab, manipulate, and match the shapes.
Skip Hop Activity Mirror: Mirrors are great toys for babies. They allow them to explore the world around them and also begin to recognize their own face. This mirror from Skip Hop is just one of many baby mirrors that can be attached to the seat of a car or the bar of a stroller for babies to enjoy.
Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube: Babies love music and this magic cube combines music with lessons in cause and effect and tempo to create a fun learning experience for babies. They can press different parts of the cube to add instruments to the orchestra and see lights flash with the tempo of the music.
Go Car: This car comes with a handle to make it easy for babies to hold on to it and control the way it moves. It also glides smoothly on different surfaces, helping babies begin to learn about the concept of movement.
What’s Inside Toy Box?: With the What’s Inside Toy Box, babies begin to learn that objects have names and also build motor skills as they reach in and pull out objects or put objects back in. Additionally, this toy can help teach object permanence.
All About Me Personalized Photo Book: Babies can learn the names and faces of loved ones, pets, and other special people or places in their lives with this photo book. Parents can insert photographs in protected compartments so babies can flip through and look at them.
TOP PICK: Froggy Feeding Fun – Little kids can boost their fine motor skills, learn their colors, and practice their counting skills with this fun frog feeding game. Simply roll the dice and feed the frogs the correct flies. Note that the fly pieces may present a choking hazard so kids should be supervised while playing.
Start Up Circuits: Toddlers who enjoy playing with switches will enjoy these toys that help them begin to understand how circuits work. Simply flip the switch to make each object work.
Wooden Building Blocks: Blocks are a favorite for toddlers because they help them build motor skills and begin to understand geometrical concepts. This set from Pidoko Kids features 50 colorful blocks in different shapes and comes with a container for carrying them all.
Personalized Name Puzzle: One of the first things a toddler learns how to spell is his/her name. Help develop that skill and help your toddler start learning how to complete puzzles with a personalized name puzzle.
Color Discovery Boxes: Color Discovery Boxes help toddlers learn their colors and begin to categorize objects. Each box contains multiple objects to represent the color. Mix the objects up and have toddlers sort them and put them back where they belong.
Bunny Peek a Boo: This fun game helps toddlers learn about prepositions and object placement. They must look at the cards and try to create the scene with the bunny and various blocks. Parents are encouraged to give clues and talk about where the bunny is. For example, “The bunny is behind the box.”
Learn the Alphabet Dough Mats: You can print out and laminate your own dough mats or you can buy these handy mats which feature uppercase and lowercase letters. These help kids learn letters and build fine motor skills.
Size and Sequence Farm Puzzles: Size and Sequence Farm Puzzles have toddlers put the puzzle pieces in order by size. This set of puzzles helps them learn how to organize objects from smallest to largest.
Dress Up Career Set: Toddlers can learn a lot from dressing up, especially when they dress up to represent different careers. With this set, your toddler can pretend to be someone else nearly every day of the week.
Seek A Boo: Seek A Boo is a fun game designed to get toddlers and preschoolers moving and help them learn how to categorize objects. Basically, it works like a game of “I Spy” where kids must find a circle that meets a particular description. Adults and kids can take turns coming up with questions.
TOP PICK: Heads Talk Tails Walk – ThinkFun’s game of silly sounds and movement has kids try to match hidden head cards to the correct bodies. If the body parts don’t match, kids have to try and act out their crazy new animals.
Yeti Forgetti Memory Game – This hide and peek memory game gets kids in on the action. Cards direct kids to shuffle the igloos and try to find the locations of the different yetis in the game while watching out for the evil snow crab for a twist on a classic shell game.
Bear Counters: Bear Counters and counting cubes can be used by preschoolers in a variety of ways. Not only are they good for counting practice, but they can also be used for creating patterns and measuring.
Fun Express Happy Kids Hand Puppets: This adorable set of hand puppets features kids from different ethnic backgrounds. It’s great to include with a puppet theater and to use to act out social stories to help get preschoolers thinking about their actions and emotions.
Toss Across: If you’re looking for a fun game to get kids moving, try Toss Across, a game that helps kids practice their throwing skills and learn about patterns while playing a game of tic tac toe.
Periodic Table Blocks: Make block play a little more educational by having kids learn the elements of the periodic table at the same time. These square blocks are great for building and also feature the names, symbols, and atomic numbers of various elements.
Rainbow Mosaic Pattern Puzzle: Kids can build fine motor skills and create patterns when they play with the Rainbow Mosaic Pattern Puzzle, an activity that features connecting tiles that kids snap together to create a mosaic on the floor.
TOP PICK: Invasion of the Cow Snatchers – Kids can build their logic and problem-solving skills with this exciting STEM game from ThinkFun. While the game can be enjoyed by kids as young as 6, even older kids, teens, and adults will enjoy trying to solve some of the genius level challenges.
TOP PICK: Owlconic Telling Time Teaching Game – For teachers and homeschool parents looking for new ways to help kids learn to tell time, this telling time game is exactly what you need. It helps kids make connections between digital and analog time while also working on memory skills and fractions.
Teaching Talking Cash Register: This cash register is a favorite of kids because it offers many functions. Kids can play store or open a real store and the cash register will help them add up totals and calculate change. It also features a fun scanner.
Melissa and Doug Magnetic Human Body: Kids can learn the different parts of the human body by taking them on and off the wooden form. It’s a great, non-gory way for kids to begin to explore what makes up the body.
Magformers: Magformers feature fun tiles that connect to one another. Kids can use them to build unique structures.
Magnetic Science: Magnetic Science contains 38 pieces to help kids explore magnets and their various uses.
Precision School Balance: With a balance, kids can practice weighing items and comparing different weights. For example, is a carrot heavier than four quarters?
Dive into Shapes: Using a series of rods and balls, kids can build their understanding of geometry as they try to recreate the shapes on the cards.
Sum Swamp: Sum Swamp is a fun game that helps kids build their addition and subtraction skills.
Electric Plane Launcher: With the help of a grown-up, kids can put together the electric plane launcher, and then make a variety of paper planes and see how far they fly.
Beaker Creatures: Learning Resources has created a fun science toy where kids can conduct experiments to reveal hidden creatures. Kids simply pop a reactor pod into the chamber, complete the steps, and discover a surprise. They learn about the scientific method and following directions at the same time.
TOP PICK: Squishy Human Body – SmartLab Toys helps kids explore the body through this unique model. The body includes 21 vital organs, bones, and body parts, as well as a 24-page anatomy book and other resources to help kids explore the model.
TOP PICK: Snap Circuits Pro – With over 75 snap-together parts and 500 exciting projects to complete, kids can learn all about electronic circuits and the basics of electricity. This kit is great for building STEM, problem-solving, and logic skills.
Adopt an Animal: Start teaching your child about giving back and becoming more aware of the world by adopting an animal. The kit comes with a certificate and a stuffed animal.
Kiwi Crate offers maker kits for kids up to age 16. Try Doodle or Tinker Crate for ages 9-16 and Kiwi for ages 5-8. Sign up for a monthly subscription box. Each box comes with fun STEM and STEAM activities for kids.
Tin Can Robot: Take an ordinary tin can and turn it into something cool with the Tin Can Robot kit. Using this kit, kids can build their own robot.
Star Wars Death Star Electronic Lab: Star Wars fans will love the challenge of the Death star Electronic Lab which has them connect circuits to help bring the Death Star to life.
Super Slime Factory: Slime is all the rage these days and the Super Slime Factory gives kids the chance to make their own slime while learning a bit about the science that goes into the process.
Qwirkle: Qwirkle is a fun game with a dominoes-like feel. Kids must match the shapes and colors, but they also have to use a bit of strategy to win the game.
Keva Contraptions: With Keva, kids can learn about engineering and geometry. This set allows kids to build unique contraptions and also comes with two balls. Perhaps kids will use them to make an epic marble run.
Create a Maze: With the Create-a-Maze set, kids are tasked with re-creating the maze on a card and then trying to get a ball through the maze.
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit: This book and LEGO set helps kids learn how to build simple machines and put them to use, introducing them to the laws of physics at the same time.
For preschoolers through upper elementary school students, you can also put together a craft kit, full of supplies, such as googly eyes, stickers, craft sticks, and glitter glue, to make a variety of crafts and to encourage kids to use their imaginations.
TOP PICK: Elenco Teach Tech Mech-5 Coding Robot – This STEM coding robot introduces kids and teens to the principles of mechanical engineering. They work with their robot to get it to perform tasks such as kicking, throwing, lifting, and even drawing.
TOP PICK: Science Academy Deluxe Squishy Ball Lab – Encourage kids and tweens to get their hands dirty and make their own squishy stress balls. The kit is great for boosting STEM skills and getting in some sensory fun.
Kano Computer: Pre-teens who enjoy coding and working with electronics, but are not quite ready to work on a full-fledged computer will appreciate Kano Computer, which allows them to build their own mini computer.
Perfume Maker: A lot of science goes into the creation of perfume. This set allows pre-teens to make their own scents while learning at the same time.
Spa Soaps Kit: Let pre-teens make their own spa soaps, and then use them to host a spa party for their friends. Better yet, they can package their soaps and give them as gifts to others.
Giant Inflatable Ball: Encourage pre-teens to get outside and be active by purchasing a giant inflatable ball. They can make up their own fun games to go with the ball too.
Boxed Book Sets : If you know a pre-teen loves to read or has a favorite series, consider purchasing a boxed set. The Giver trilogy by Lois Lowry is a great set to consider.
Eco-Friendly Bean Bag: Instead of a normal bean bag, opt for an eco-friendly bean bag. The gift will teach pre-teens about being more environmentally conscious.
Build Your Own Pinball: Kids and teens can learn about engineering by building their own pinball game with this fun set.
Displates: Give teens a unique gift that teaches them to value creativity and different art forms. Displates come in different styles and relate to interests such as popular movies and TV shows or musical instruments.
Ion: A Compound Building Game – Know a teen struggling with chemistry? Find some STEM fun and refresh that chem knowledge with a fun game that has kids and teens collect cards and build chemical compounds.
Quadcopter: What’s more fun than a drone? A drone with a camera. Teens can make their own videos and take pictures as they fly their drones.
Marvel Puzzle: Have a superhero fan? Give them a superhero puzzle so they can enjoy some of their favorite skills and they put their puzzle-solving skills to the test.
Codenames Disney: Codenames is a fun word association game. Purchase the Disney version or another themed-version and play it with your teen.
Die Cast Spirograph: Spirograph may seem like a kids’ toy, but this version of the classic drawing kit is super sleek. Teens may find creating their own spiral shapes relaxing.
Games: World of Puzzles: Purchase a subscription to a magazine such as Games: World of Puzzles. This fun magazine includes many different puzzles for teens and adults to solve.
Game of Phones: Teens are always on their phones. Get them to interact with one another with this fun game which has them use their phones to send messages and complete challenges.
My Cinema Lightbox: A lightbox is a fun way to get teens to write. They can come up with creative messages or even practice spelling vocabulary words.
In addition to the gifts listed above, consider purchasing apps and other digital gifts for teens or giving them a gift card to purchase music and apps for their phones or tablets.
Do you know of any must-have educational gifts for kids or teens? If so, we’d love to hear your ideas. Share them in the comments!
This year, you also have a chance to win some of the items mentioned on our list.
Tin Can Robot
Heads Talk, Tails Walk Game
Invasion of the Cow Snatchers
Telling Time Teaching Game
Deluxe Squishy Ball Lab
Froggy Feeding Fun
Ion: A Compound Building Game
Squishy Human Body
Teach Tech Mech 5 Coding Robot
Snap Circuits Pro
3 Ways to Play Ford F-150 Baby Walker
*This list may contain affiliate links and some companies provided products for review, but all views expressed are our own.
Teachers truly are miracle workers. Not only do they work hard to turn around struggling students and help exceptional students succeed, but they often do it with a limited budget and a lack of quality materials. That’s why sites like Pinterest are full of ideas for turning household goods and recyclables into fun classroom projects. Sometimes, however, teachers need more than recycled goods. That’s when money – and a bit of goodwill – comes into play. If you desperately need funding for your classroom, we’re here to help with a list of websites and other resources to provide the money you need.
Note: Before posting any fundraisers for your classroom, check your school or district guidelines. Some districts require that teachers receive approval from administration or the board before fundraising.
DonorsChoose.org gives teachers the opportunity to post their classroom needs and allows others to contribute to those needs. Friends, family, and community members who know about the project can contribute, but the project will also be visible to a wealth of donors who regularly work with the site to help fund classroom projects. While teachers can request virtually anything, projects with lower costs, longer deadlines, and clear academic goals have the highest funding rates. Once teachers receive the materials from DonorsChoose, they must fill out a documentation and thank you package to send to donors. Successfully completing the documentation earns teachers more points to submit new project requests.
TeacherLists.com gives teachers a place to post their classroom supply lists so parents can easily access them. While the goal of the site is just to share school supply lists, teachers can also create lists for other reasons, giving parents and other school supporters gift ideas for Christmas or Teacher Appreciation Week. Teachers can also win free supplies by referring other teachers to the site. For example, getting one new teacher to sign up earns teachers a selection of Wet Ones hand sanitizing wipes.
Classwish offers multiple ways for teachers to get resources for their classrooms. At the basic level, teachers create wish lists and share those lists with potential donors to help get the items and the funds they need. The site also helps schools partner with local businesses to create workplace giving or matching gift programs. Parents, friends, and others can also send greeting card gift certificates to help meet their classroom needs.
Through Adopt-a-Classroom teachers can get their classroom needs in the hands of donors who want to help meet those needs. Similar to DonorsChoose, teachers post their latest projects and other classroom needs to their Adopt-A-Classroom profile. They can then share those needs through social media or promote their page within the community to get people to donate. Donors who regularly visit the site can also search for different teachers’ needs and donate.
With DigitalWish teachers can ask for donations to help bring technology into the classroom. While teachers may not receive new computers or high-end equipment, they can receive cool software and smaller digital items, such as handheld video cameras, to help bring their classrooms into the 21st century. The site also regularly offers grants to help teachers get specific products and works with companies to provide deep discounts for teachers.
Jumping on the crowdfunding bandwagon, PledgeCents helps teachers use the power of crowdfunding to fund their classroom needs. After setting up a project, teachers share it through social media sites and encourage others to share it as well. As the project starts to go viral, more and more people can donate to it, helping teachers reach their goals a few dollars at a time. Since the goal of PledgeCents is to get others involved, teachers should not be shy about asking for donations and should work hard to present a compelling case to get their needs met.
While Freecycle might not help you meet specific classroom needs, it could help you find free resources for your classroom. On Freecycle, people give away things for free. By connecting with a local group, you could find free classroom furniture, boxes and other random objects for craft projects, or even request specific items for a classroom project. Getting some items for free could help free up money in the budget for other classroom supplies.
One way to get extra funds for the classroom is just to make extra money. TeachersPayTeachers allows teachers to sell lesson plans, worksheets, and other educational materials. By adding and promoting their materials, teachers can make a little extra cash to use in the classroom. They’ll also find free lesson plans, worksheets, and other resources to use with their students. You can also now raise funds to purchase things on the site through the TpT ClassFund.
While teachers can’t start campaigns on DoSomething.org, their students can. Designed to help teens and young adults fund their causes, teachers can help students get started using DoSomething.org. Through the site, students can find funding and support for school fundraisers, community service projects, and other ideas designed to help others and make the world a better place. If students don’t have their own cause, teachers can help them find an existing cause to support. This works great for character education classes and school clubs.
If you have an Amazon account, you can set up a wish list full of items you need in your classroom through Amazon Lists. Share the link with parents, friends, or even total strangers and ask them to purchase something from your list. Items purchased from your list can be shipped directly to you at the address you select. The address will be hidden from senders so safety is not an issue. Don’t have a strong network of support? Connect with a page such as Teacher Amazon Gifting which encourages teachers to support one another by purchasing items from wishlists or tweet out a link to your list with #SupportATeacher and #clearthelist.
GoFundMe allows teachers to post fundraisers for their classrooms on its cloud-funding platform. The site includes categories for teachers, teams and clubs, and students and parents.
SimpleFund gives parents and students a chance to raise funds for schools by using their cell phones. They earn funds by reading articles, watching videos, and downloading apps.
Class Tag helps you raise money as you communicate with parents. Every time you engage with parents, you earn coins within the program. Those coins can be redeemed for classroom supplies.
Shoparoo uses grocery receipts to help schools earn money. Parents simply download the app and upload their receipts every time they shop. Then the school earns money.
What other websites, resources, or methods have you used to help fund your classroom needs?
For kids who dislike ghosts, ghouls, and skeletons, Halloween can be a rough season. It’s hard to know what’s lurking around the corner at pumpkin patches, corn mazes, trunk or treats, and even the local grocery store. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to skip Halloween altogether. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween without bringing in the darker side of the season.
1. Paint pumpkins
For some kids, carving pumpkins can be too spooky, especially with their crazy faces, but what’s stopping you from painting a pumpkin? Choose some bright colors and focus on funny faces or cute patterns, such as dots and stripes.
2. Bob for apples
If you’re having a Halloween party, throw in a traditional bobbing for apples game. While it may not be the most hygienic, kids will have fun trying to capture the apples with their mouths.
3. Watch a pet parade
Check your local newspaper or activity guide for a pet costume parade. These parades are usually free from spooky costumes and, instead, focus on adorable animals in silly costumes.
4. Head to a fall festival
Many fall festivals are held during the day and focus on the fun side of the season. To ensure the festival will be free from spookiness, consider attending one sponsored by a church where it’s less likely that ghosts, skeletons, guts, and gore will make an appearance.
5. Read a cute Halloween story
Read a story such as The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin which focuses more on accepting your differences and fitting in than trying to scare kids on Halloween. Another cute Halloween book is Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer.
6. Hold a non-spooky costume party
Invite some friends over for a costume party where only fun, happy costumes are allowed. Consider coming up with a theme, such as favorite cartoon characters or storybook characters.
7. Trick or treat with friends and family
Rather than going trick or treating around your neighborhood, set up a time where you can trick or treat at the homes of different friends and family members. Do it during the day so you won’t see any scary masks or other costumed people out and about.
8. Have Halloween craft time
Rather than making a spooky bat, Frankenstein, or other scary craft, just pull out some orange and black paint and construction paper, along with some glue and googly eyes, and let kids come up with their own creations.
9. Make silly monsters
Monsters don’t have to be scary. Focus on crafting monsters with silly faces rather than scary ones. You can give them cute names too.
10. Create leaf art
Go outside and gather some leaves. Make leaf creatures by adding eyes, noses, arms, and legs or use the leaves to make collages and other fun pictures.
11. Paint with a pumpkin
Cut out different shapes from a pumpkin and use those shapes as stamps. Dip them in paint and press them on paper to create unique works of art.
12. Make slime
Slime is often associated with Halloween, but that doesn’t mean it has to be spooky. Make or buy some slime and have fun getting your hands messy.
13. Play in a sensory bin
Slowly introduce kids to some of the spookier aspects of Halloween through a themed sensory bin. You can throw in a few small plastic bats, ghosts, or spiders if your child can handle them in small doses. You may also want to add plastic pumpkins, some dirt, or black beans. For extra texture, add some orange or black water beads.
14. Go on a candy hunt
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting to trick or treat, but you don’t have to find candy in traditional ways. Hide candy around your house or in your yard and send kids on a fun scavenger hunt to find it or set up different trick or treat stations in each room of your house.
15. Focus on educational activities
Try Help Teaching’s 100 Educational Pumpkin Activities to bring math, science, and literacy practice to the holiday.
If you do decide to head out to some more traditional Halloween events, be sure to call beforehand to see if there will be any spooky elements there and walk ahead of your child in any corn mazes or on any paths so you can be prepared to turn around if any scary elements appear. You may also want to bring along some head phones or a pair of sunglasses to help your child tune out the spooky sights and sounds.
Do you have any favorite non-spooky activities for Halloween? If so, share them for others to enjoy!
It’s fall and that means it’s time for… pumpkin everything. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, visiting the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, and more. Since pumpkins are already all around you, why not make them a part of your lesson plans too? We’ve rounded up 100 activities you can use to bring pumpkins into the classroom.
- Bring a set of pumpkins into the classroom and have students order the pumpkins from smallest to largest by size, stem height, weight, or another attribute.
- Give each student a pumpkin and have students measure the pumpkin. How tall is it? How wide is it? What is its diameter? How much does it weigh? Practice estimation skills by having students how much it will weigh before they weigh it.
- Use a balance to compare the weight of a pumpkin to other objects in the classroom. For example, how many counting bears does it take to equal the weight of the pumpkin?
- Practice counting skills by counting pumpkins. You can count the number of pumpkins you see at the pumpkin patch or bring in small pumpkin candies for children to count and group.
- Sing the “Five Little Pumpkins” song (“Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, the first one said, ‘Oh my, it’s getting late…’”)
- Most pumpkins have seeds inside. Place students in groups and give each group a small pumpkin. Cut open the pumpkins and have students count the number of seeds inside. Then each group can add their results to a graph. Practice estimation skills by having students predict how many seeds they will find before they look in the pumpkin.
- Make a pumpkin seeds counting book. Wash and dry pumpkin seeds and have students glue the correct number of seeds to each page of a counting book. You can also use dried pumpkin parts to make a book about the life cycle of a pumpkin.
- Did you know that the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed over 2,000 pounds? Research the largest pumpkins in history, compare their characteristics, or create a graph to see how much they would have to grow a day to reach that size.
- Turn a pumpkin into a geoboard. Add push pins to the pumpkin and stretch rubber bands around the pins to make different shapes.
- Bake a pumpkin pie (or something else with pumpkin in it) or make a no-bake pumpkin recipe to help students work on measuring and reading directions.
- Make a shape-o-lantern. Cut out different shapes (circles, triangles, rectangles, etc.) in different colors of construction paper and have students glue them together to make their own shape-o-lantern.
- Play an online pumpkin math game, such as Farmer Fred’s Pumpkin Patch or Pumpkin Multiples.
- Determine how much a pumpkin will cost by setting a price per weight, weighing a pumpkin, and determining the final total.
- Find two sets of three pumpkins that are nearly identical in size and color. Make a grid on a large piece of cardboard or by placing tape on the ground and play a game of pumpkin tic-tac-toe.
- Study the life cycle of a pumpkin. How does a pumpkin grow from a seed to a full-grown pumpkin?
- Create a diagram of a pumpkin and label the different parts (stem, seed, vine, etc.)
- Conduct a pumpkin investigation. Have students analyze the pumpkin and describe the outside, the inside, how many seeds it has, how many lines it has, and other important features.
- Discover what happens to a pumpkin when you drop it from different heights. Does it break apart more when dropped from higher heights? What factors cause it to break apart or stay together?
- Use candy pumpkins and toothpicks to create bridges and other amazing structures. Talk with students about what makes one structure sturdier than others.
- Get a large tub of water and predict whether a pumpkin will sink or float. Place it in the water and see what it does. Try different sizes, shapes, and varieties of pumpkins. You could also empty out a pumpkin or poke holes in it to see if that changes the results.
- How long does it take a pumpkin to decompose? Place a piece of pumpkin into a container of dirt and regular monitor it. How long does it take the pumpkin to completely disappear?
- Monitor a rotting pumpkin by having students keep a pumpkin outdoors. Have students regularly go outside to observe the pumpkin. In a journal, students can draw a picture of the pumpkin and write a brief description.
- Grow a plant inside a pumpkin. Open it up and leave some of the guts inside, add some soil and a few plant seeds, and wait for your plant to sprout. Discuss with students what elements of the pumpkin might help a plant grow inside it.
- Create a pumpkin elevator. Challenge students to build a structure they can use to lift a heavy pumpkin. Reward students who can lift the heaviest pumpkin and lift a pumpkin the highest.
- Make a pumpkin volcano. Scoop out a pumpkin, put in some baking soda, add a bit of vinegar, and watch the pumpkin erupt. To make it more fun, add a few small holes for the foam to seep out of.
- Roast some pumpkin seeds with students. Have them look at the seeds before they are roasted and after they are roasted and note how they change.
- Dissolve candy pumpkins in different liquids (water, oil, vinegar, and soda). See how long it takes the pumpkin to completely dissolve.
- Empty a pumpkin, light a candle, and put it inside. Then put the lid on the pumpkin. Talk to students about why the candle goes out. Carve the pumpkin, light a candle, and put it inside. Talk to students about why the candle stays lit.
- Write an acrostic using the word PUMPKIN. Have students come up with a word or sentence related to pumpkins for each letter.
- How many words can you make from the letters in the word PUMPKIN? Challenge students to come up with as many words as possible. To make it easier you could add another word, such as PUMPKIN PATCH or PUMPKIN PIE.
- Have students draw and write a description of the ultimate jack-o-lantern. How big would it be? How would they decorate it?
- If a pumpkin could talk, what would it say? Have students write a short story about a talking pumpkin.
- Read a fiction book about pumpkins. Good books to start with include Spookley the Square Pumpkin and Too Many Pumpkins.
- Have students look at the inside and outside of the pumpkin and describe both with adjectives. Is it slimy on the inside? Bumpy on the outside?
- Create a recipe for a sweet treat using pumpkins or pumpkin candy. Students’ recipes could be something they could actually try to make or something crazy.
- Write pumpkin metaphors and similes, where students compare themselves or other objects to a pumpkin. For example, I am like a pumpkin because sometimes I feel bumpy.
- Write a poem on a pumpkin. Give each student a pumpkin and a permanent marker and let them write poems about fall or pumpkins right on the outside of the pumpkin.
- Create an advertisement for a pumpkin. Have students try to persuade others to buy their pumpkins (or pumpkins from their pumpkin patch) by creating a poster to advertise them or create a make-believe commercial.
- Research the largest pumpkins in history, pumpkin festivals around the world, or another element related to pumpkins and write an informational report.
- Organize nouns related to pumpkins based on whether they are a person, place, or thing. For example, “farmer (person), pumpkin patch (place), seed (thing).”
- Learn vocabulary words related to a pumpkin patch. Some words include: vine, seed, tractor, pulp, tendril, hay, pick.
- Write the letters of the alphabet around the edge of a construction paper pumpkin. Call out a letter of the alphabet. Using a hole punch or dot marker, have students find and mark the letter.
- Visit a pumpkin patch and talk about the role the pumpkin patch plays in your community.
- Create a map that shows how to get to a local pumpkin patch or have students create a map after they visit the pumpkin patch. Students can also follow a map through a corn maze at the pumpkin patch.
- Discuss with students the path a pumpkin takes to get from a seed to a pumpkin pie on the dinner table.
- Did you know that 90% of pumpkins grown in the United States come from a 90-mile radius around Peoria, Illinois? Do some research on the state of Illinois and its pumpkin crop.
- Do some research to figure out the top 5-10 pumpkin producing countries in the world.
- Decorate pumpkins to represent different flags of the world or different states in the United States.
- Paint a world globe onto a pumpkin. Use it to talk about concepts such as the equator, longitude, and latitude.
- Why do people put out jack-o-lanterns on Halloween? Do some research to figure out the reason behind the tradition.
- How have pumpkins been used throughout history? Have each student find one use and write a report on it.
- Eat pumpkin like the Native Americans by cutting it and roasting it over a fire.
- Read the book The Pumpkin People and talk about different personalities and types of people that exist in the world.
- Play a game of pumpkin trivia. Put together a set of historical questions about pumpkins and see how much students know.
- Sing the song “5 Little Pumpkins.”
- Sing the “I’m a Little Pumpkin” song to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.” (I’m a little pumpkin, orange and round)
- Use two paper plates taped together with beans inside and painted orange to create pumpkin tambourines.
- Use soft mallets to tap on pumpkins and see what sounds they make. Do they make different sounds once they have been cut open?
- Replace the black dots on music notes with tiny pumpkin pictures on a silly tune about fall or Halloween for beginning learners to play.
- Make up a clapping or stomping rhythm as kids spell out the word pumpkin.
- Fill a plastic tube with dried pumpkin seeds to make a musical shaker.
- Play a game of musical pass the pumpkin. Have students stand in a circle and pass around the pumpkin while music plays. Whoever is holding the pumpkin when the music stops is out.
- Say a rhyme such as “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” while having students clap along. Try to say the rhyme faster and slower.
- Have students make up a pumpkin dance, a dance that they think a big, round pumpkin might do or a dance they can do while holding a pumpkin.
- Play students part of the soundtrack from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and talk about the different sounds you hear.
- Sing the song “Where is Thumbkin?” but insert pumpkin and pull out a pumpkin or two as you say the lines.
- Play a game of PUMPKIN instead of HORSE. Students shoot baskets and try to avoid getting the letters in “PUMPKIN,” earning one letter for each missed shot.
- Set up a hopscotch game using construction paper cutouts of pumpkins instead of squares.
- Create a pumpkin workout where each letter of the word PUMPKIN stands for a different activity. For example, “P” could stand for 10 push ups.
- Hold a pumpkin rolling challenge. Give each student a pumpkin to roll from one end of the room to the other. See who can roll his/her pumpkin first.
- Hold a pumpkin lifting challenge. See which student can lift the heaviest pumpkin or carry the most pumpkins at once.
- Play a game of “Steal from the Pumpkin Patch.” Give each student two flags to hang out of their pockets and have students try to steal the other team’s pumpkin from the patch without getting their flags stolen.
- Play a round of pumpkin bowling. Set up empty soda bottles and roll a pumpkin to try and knock them down.
- Follow the pumpkin path by laying down construction paper pumpkins around the room. Challenge students to walk around the room by only stepping on the pumpkins.
- Have students try to walk around the room while balancing a pumpkin on their heads.
- Pass a pumpkin around the room, but don’t let students use their hands. A smaller pumpkin works best for this game.
- Go on a walk through a pumpkin patch.
- Play pumpkin ring toss and have students try to land a cardboard ring on a pumpkin’s stem.
- Hold a pumpkin relay race, where students must race while holding a pumpkin, and pass the pumpkin to a different team member at certain points in the race.
- Have a pumpkin toss. Let two students toss a small pumpkin back and forth. With each successful toss, they take a step back. The pair of students who toss the pumpkin back and forth the longest win.
- Get out the finger paints and let students paint their pumpkins however they want.
- Use yarn or string and have students wrap their pumpkins to create fun designs.
- Blow up an orange balloon and wrap it in yarn coated in glue. Once the glue dries, pop the balloon and remove it. Add a stem and leaf to complete the pumpkin.
- Cut an apple in half, dip it in orange paint, and stamp it on paper. Add faces and stems to create pumpkin faces.
- Tear up pieces of orange tissue paper or construction paper. Have students glue them onto a pumpkin shape.
- Remove and dry the seeds from a pumpkin. Have students glue the seeds to construction paper to create patterns or fun pictures.
- Place a piece of construction paper on a pumpkin paper and rub a crayon on it to create a fun pumpkin rubbing.
- Make construction paper pumpkins with a variety of different faces which will also help students learn about emotions.
- Cut out construction paper shapes and tape them to pumpkins to make different pumpkin animals.
- Cut strips of orange paper and arrange them to create a pumpkin shape (gluing them at the top and bottom of the pumpkin. Add a construction paper stem and leaf.
- Make a thumbprint pumpkin patch, by having students put orange thumbprints on a piece of paper, and then drawing in stems and leaves.
- Sponge paint a white paper plate with orange paint. Add a construction paper stem and let students draw or glue on construction paper shapes to make a face.
- Practice mixing red and yellow paint to make orange, and then use the orange paint to paint a picture of a pumpkin.
- Glue googly eyes and stems onto orange pom poms to make a pom pom pumpkin patch.
- Have students make construction paper pumpkins and cut out pictures from magazines to glue on for the facial features.
- Have students make a fence out of construction paper strips and glue on five construction paper pumpkins to accompany the song “Five Little Pumpkins.”
- Have students create a square pumpkin to go along with the story Spookley the Square Pumpkin.
- Paint rocks orange and paint on faces with black paint to make small jack-o-lanterns.
- Make pumpkin sculptures by stacking pumpkins in unique ways and gluing them together with hot glue (used with teacher supervision).
- Let kids use a hammer and a nail or a drill (with supervision) to make holes in a pumpkin. Add a candle to see how the light shines through.
Have more pumpkin ideas? We’d love to hear them. Share them in comments. Visit Help Teaching for more fun fall activities and printables. Happy Fall from Help Teaching!